Twm Siôn Cati 

A man of resource and a thief well-famed
Tregaron my home, Twm Siôn Cati my name
Your horses and cattle are all of my game
But rich and respected I’ll die, just the same

In an ironmonger’s shop in Llandovery fair
A fancy I took to a porridge pot there
Said the man “Oh, I have three of the best”
And one I admired above all of the rest

But before I ventured to lay money down
I examined the pot above and around
“Oh no, my good man, this won’t do for me:
There’s a hole in this pot as you plainly may see.”

He peeked in the pot, said “Your pardon I crave,
But no hole can I find, as I hope to be saved.”
“If you put in your head, you’ll see it quite plain…”
So he put in his head and tried once again.

But the man had such brains, his head hardly would fit
So I rammed the pot down, meaning but to assist:
The while that he struggled to free himself there
I tiptoed away with the other pair.

But as I departed, my pots in my hand,
Some advice I gave, as I left him to stand:
“Indeed, there’s a hole, for if there were not,
However could you put your head in the pot?

A story from George Borrow’s ‘Wild Wales’ about “the Welsh Robin Hood”, though Borrow didn’t seem to like him very much. Samuel Rush Meyrick tells a rather different version of the same story in ‘The History of Cardiganshire’ (1907). I wrote this at some point in the 70s, but haven’t put a tune to it so far.

(c) David Harley

Easy Jack [demo]

Words & music (c) David A. Harley

Originally written in the early 1980s for a revue directed by Margaret Ford, but not used. Because I wanted to reflect the sort of rough humour I often encountered in various industrial settings around that time, it originally included a reference to a misogynistic ‘joke’ I’d heard about a female worker described as ‘the factory bike’, not because I found it amusing, but because it was the way people often talked in those settings. When I found the song again, I decided that any authenticity it added wasn’t worth the discomfort.

Jack-easy is slang for very easy. If I remember correctly, it was also the name of a strip cartoon in one of the tabloids about a stereotypical British workman.

Bread and beer and a roof for your head
Easy, Jack, easy
Spinning a lathe until you drop dead
Easy, Jack, take it easy

Three pound an hour while you’re on your feet
Easy, Jack, easy
And all the chips and beans you can eat
Easy, Jack, take it easy

When I was still young and in my prime
Easy, Jack, easy
I’d knock out those countersinks ten at a time
Easy, Jack, take it easy

Now I’ve got wise and a rick in my back
Easy, Jack, easy
I keep two on the table and eight on the rack
Easy, Jack, take it easy

Here comes the foreman, the king of the shop
Easy, Jack, easy
I’d give a day’s pay to see his pressures drop
Easy, Jack, take it easy

When you get your ticket, take it from me
Easy, Jack, easy
Leave eight on the table and two up your sleeve
Easy, Jack, take it easy

David A. Harley

 

 

Apprentice Song [demo]

Written many years ago for a revue, but not used. The tune is basically ‘Tramps and Hawkers’. Vocal needs work. Or maybe it should stay as a poem.

(c) David  A. Harley

Fetch the rolls: make the tea: grab the end of that
And sand it till your fingers bleed, if you think you’ve planed it flat.

Call yourself apprentice? Lad, I’d be ashamed
If I knew so little, to be called by such a name

Never mind the splinters: In a year or two
You’ll have quite forgotten that they ever bothered you.

Hands as hard as English oak, muscle, skill and guile:
That’s what makes a craftsman; but not you, for a while

 Cut yourself, you silly sod? Take care, if you please,
And don’t bleed on the timber: do you think it grows on trees?

Call yourself a craftsman? No, lad, never you.
Though if you try your hardest, one day you might scrape through

 So you’ve got your piece of paper? I hope I’ve taught you well,
And I won’t deny you’re willing: no doubt time will tell.

Call yourself a craftsman? That’s as may well be…
Another year, or five, or ten, and then perhaps we’ll see…

David A. Harley

‘One Step Away’ released

Please forgive the absence of fanfares and fireworks, but ‘One Step Away (From The Blues)’ is now officially released, only three decades or so after it was first recorded for an album never released. Unlike the recent album ‘Tears of Morning’ and the single ‘Moonflow VI’, it’s available on Amazon and Apple Music, among other sites such as Spotify, as well as Bandcamp.

Personnel:

  • Me on acoustic guitar, vocal and electric slide guitar
  • Don MacLeod on acoustic lead guitar
  • Bob Theil on 12-string acoustic guitar

David Harley

One Step Away – a new old single…

Back in the 1980s, a handful of us – Bob Theil, Don MacLeod, Pat Orchard, Bob Cairns and myself – got together to record an album. Not a band album as such, but one that would represent the work of each of us as songwriters. Unfortunately, the album was never released because of contractual issues: it’s a pity, because there was some excellent stuff on it, in my unbiased opinion.

Fast forward to 2021: having reluctantly come to the conclusion that at my age and in my state of health, it’s unlikely that I’d do any more serious gigging even if life returns to something nearer to normal, so I’ve started to work on releasing some music digitally.

The first steps involved a couple of releases on Bandcamp:

  • The album Tears Of Morning, featuring songs and a few instrumentals, most of which have some connection with Shropshire, including my settings of verse by A.E. Housman and ‘W.H.B.’ – Bill Golembeski’s very kind review for folking.com is here.
  • The single ‘Moonflow VI‘ started life as a lengthy instrumental partnered with Bert Jansch’s ‘Needle of Death’ but took on a life of its own as the acoustic and resonator guitar duet ‘Moonflow III‘ (included on Tears of Morning), then acquired a couple of extra electric guitars, by which time it was in its 6th iteration.
  • My intention is that ‘One Step Away (From The Blues)’, though it will be released only a few weeks after ‘Moonflow VI’, will receive a wider digital distribution, though it will also be available on Bandcamp. It’s one of my tracks from the 1980s album mentioned above, remastered to the best of my ability, and it has a more contemporary edge than the ‘Tears of Morning’ album. It will be released on Friday 12th February 2021. (Wheal Alice Music WAM03-21)
    • Words & music by David Harley
    • Vocals, acoustic guitar and electric slide guitar by David Harley
    • Acoustic lead guitar by Don MacLeod
    • 12-string acoustic by Bob Theil
    • Produced, engineered and mixed at Hallmark Studio, London.

Here’s a live-ish video of ‘One Step Away’ coupled with another song that I haven’t commercially recorded yet.

CDs by Mal Brown

Some years ago now, I reviewed for Sabrinafu an excellent CD by Mal Brown called Sharp Stones and Tender Hearts.

He recently sent me a couple of his earlier CDs. Rule Changer is another music CD, and it’s just as good as the later album, with a generous 19 tracks, most of them written by Mal (including his setting of Walter de la Mare’s ‘Trees’ and the co-written ‘Johnny Jones’ Rabbit’, plus the traditional ‘Angels’. Mal’s excellent lyrics are supported by some fine tunes, some sounding almost traditional, some leaning towards music hall, but all good singable songs, with some sympathetic instrumental backing and classy harmonies.

Poems, Pies and Peas is a collection of poems and monologues, mostly without music. Not usually my thing, but this includes some hilarious content. I was particularly gratified to learn the real story of the Mona Lisa. 🙂

Prices and contact details as follows.

1CD – £10
2CDs – £15
3CDs – £20

Plus post and package.

  • Email – malbrownace@gmail.com
  • Phone – 01743 861159.

David Harley

Commercial links

Well, it’s a long time since I’ve done this… (Not since I did some cassette albums in the 1980s.) But I’ve finally started making some recordings commercially available.

Here’s a video: an introduction to my Tears of Morning album, a collection of songs and settings, most of which have a Shropshire connection. The album itself is available from Bandcamp, as is the single Moonflow VI (and as will be the forthcoming single ‘One Step Away’, though that will be more widely available).

Here’s a podcast link which is essentially the same message as the video, but a little longer and even less visually interesting. 😀

I’ll be adding links to this page as they go live. If I remember.

David Harley

Christmas video set

All three of the songs I performed last week for the Kettle & Wink virtual Xmas session are now up on YouTube. NB these were try-outs, not the actual set: you’d have to go to the Facebook group page for that. If you were really that desperate…

It’s an unusual set for me in that none of the songs are completely original, though the third is a parody.

The first was written in the late 19th century by Charlie Case, and learned way back in the 20th century from the late and very great Diz Disley. Which is why it’s a bit jazzier than you might expect from me… ‘The Fatal Glass of Beer’.

The second is a song by Ewan MacColl that I haven’t sung in many decades: ‘Ballad of the Carpenter’. MacColl’s view of the story of Christ reflects his own leanings towards communism rather than a traditional religious view: while that’s fine with me, I’ve followed Phil Ochs’s adaptation and somewhat softened the Politburo resonances.

Somehow, I’ve never quite felt that ‘The Snowman’ quite reflects my own experience of Christmas.

David Harley